Facebook Says That If You Use The Site You Agree To Its Bogus Claim To Hold A Trademark On 'Book'

from the uh,-nice-try dept

We've discussed in the past Facebook's aggressive claims of trademarks on pretty much any use of "face" as a prefix or "book" as suffix. The company did eventually get a registered trademark on some uses of "Face", but the "book" part has proven more difficult. That said, you really don't have to register a trademark, but can assert common law trademarks based on use alone, which can be pretty effective. Still, the folks at Ars Technica noticed that Facebook has now slipped a little nugget into its user agreement, saying that if you use the site you effectively agree to the company's claims on a variety of trademarks. It had already included a bunch before, but has now added "book" to the list.

Ars suggests that this could strengthen Facebook's claims against sites, but I'm not convinced. While clickthrough license agreements that no one reads may have some force under law, I would think that any company using the phrases legitimately could make a good case that such a clickthrough in no way diminishes their rights to make reasonable use of "face" or "book." Really, though, Facebook should shackle its trademark lawyers a bit and tell them to chill out in all but the most egregious cases. Being a trademark bully is no way to build a company.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Pink floyd, Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 5:55pm

    FACEPLANT

    patent that

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 6:07pm

    Re: FACEPLANT

    How about FACEPALM?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Mr. Smarta** (profile), Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 6:15pm

    And more...

    And by reading this post, you've already agreed to let me come over your house, drink all your beer, date your cutest daughter (as long as she's over 18), surf on your internet connection, let me call Siberia on your phone for hours at a time, shave your dog or cat, milk your goat, force a herd of two hundred cattle rabid with mad cow disease into your home and create a stampede, swim in your pool after I cover myself with paint, bathe in your pool after covering myself with feces (probably won't happen), make your wife/husband ride a yak up Mount Everest, and slap you upside the head whenever I feel like it.

    And you can't protest this in any way, shape, or form as you've already read it and agree to these terms. So don't even bother trying to fight. That's it. You're done. It's over. Period. End of story. So don't even say another word as you don't get to defend yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Christopher Weigel (profile), Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 6:15pm

    Based on the article, I have to wonder if "bookface" would go unchallenged...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Christopher Weigel (profile), Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 6:17pm

    Re: And more...

    I own neither daughters, nor beer, nor a house. Good luck.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 6:21pm

    Re: Re: And more...

    But you said nothing about not owning a pool, bro!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Mr. Smarta** (profile), Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 6:25pm

    Re: Re: And more...

    If you don't own daughters, then who do you own? ;) An apartment or condo will work. And I can always wait for the beer...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 6:29pm

    Since I have no facebook account, not going to have one, I for one don't agree to those terms.

    So are all users of the software that signed up previous to this, grandfathered in or out? Those additions were not there at the time of their sign up or supposed reading of the terms of use.

    As Mr. Smarta** has pointed out, just because you have some sort of terms of agreement doesn't make it enforceable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 6:42pm

    I'm thinking AssFaceBook. Let them claim copyright over that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Suja (profile), Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 7:20pm

    Re:

    Hah! "AssFaceBook". That one made me laugh as much as "FaceFuck" did when I first saw it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Suja (profile), Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Ditto for "FakeBook" considering the amount of 40+ year olds putting pictures of them as 10-18 years old.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Suja (profile), Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Or fat people putting cropped pictures of themselves so you can't see the jelly rolls.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Suja (profile), Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 7:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    i' go on tired and now i dont remember now ... ohw ell

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Let them claim copyright over that.

    Where did they say they would claim “copyright” on anything?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 24th, 2012 @ 1:34am

    But you have to totally rule in our favor your honor!
    Our 4,000,000 FB fans all agree this is totally like right and legal and that way better than a law a couple hundred people voted for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: Let them claim copyright over that.

    Oops, Trademark.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Ablusive, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Baseless trademark threats are usually ineffective

    These days anything and everything needs a website. So, if the F-entity were to prevent referential use of the name or parts of it by any website at all, then that, granted, would be an extremely agressive posture. Here, by highlighting referential use, I am excluding the obvious intentional "passing off" abuse of the trademark.

    However, I don't believe that the F-entity is attempting to go that far yet ! Also, such a thing seldom works if challenged. For example Chilling Effects has documented a Censorship attempt couched as a Trademark notice, which turns out to be an attempt by a school to stop parents from criticizing it. This failed, as you can see the the GIIS parents blog has not censored itself (though it seems to have ceased activity). The school is now shopping for jurisdictions where the censorship attempt will work, and since it may work in India, they are (under their new names Global Schools Foundation and GIIS K-12 Education Private Ltd) suing Google as well as an Indian government agency (CERT-IN) in Delhi for hosting the blog and for not ordering it to be blocked, respectively. The outcome of that exercise will be interesting to watch, as the current Indian regime is advocating a "heavy touch" style of regulation of internet social media. Censorship by Courts in India follows the "block first, hear later" approach according to Rajeev Dhavan, a Supreme Court attorney of note. If there is a non-zero chance that a Singapore website can be blocked by a Court in India, that is interesting food for thought about the nature of cyberspace itself and the meaning of national boundaries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Craig, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 10:57am

    Interesting

    Would be interesting to see them follow this through throwing a blanket copyright in there t&c

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Josh Taylor, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 1:14pm

    It would be more totalitarian if someone trademarked all the letters of the alphabet, lose your voice box, children would be forbidden to learn the alphabet unless they get a written permission to do. You can forget about writing your own cookbook.

    Annonymous is getting serious. Time to hack facebook and drop a virus on this site.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Dana Bostick (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    FaceBook

    Yet another reason I've closed all three of my FaceBook accounts. Their constant tweaking of the privacy policies in an attempt to harvest your and your friends information for commercial use is just too much intrusion into my life.

    A site ceases to become user friendly when I have to check every day and apply a NEW set of rules to cover my ass and attempt to prevent unintended use of my information. Not worth the effort. See ya later FaceBook, you've lost me forever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Loki, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    Apparently Facebook hasn't learned a great deal from either AOL or MySpace. With the amount of ill-will I currently see about facebook right now (their "timeline" feature that is being rolled out seem to be particularly unpopular) the time could be ripe for Google+ or some new startup to start pulling facebook users the way everyone shifted from MySpace to Facebook a few years ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    LazyDave, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 6:09pm

    I realize some people feel strongly about this, but this is really just Facebook putting notice that they're using book as a trademark for whatever. For those saying things like copyright, please read up on trademarks to better understand and see this is arguably much ado about nothing.

    Of course, it's understandable some people don't feel good when someone just changes the terms in their agreement without getting the former to actually agree with it, although it depends on how much "harm" it might cause, perhaps.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    wvhillbilly (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 9:29pm

    Facebook trademarks "face" and "book

    I seem to recall that one cannot legally trademark common, generic words. But Monster Cable did this for years with the word "monster" and got by with it, suing anyone who used the word "monster" in any commercial context -from a mom-and-pop clothing store to Walt Disney-, causing untold grief to their targets.

    I suppose if there is any way to abuse something, someone will find a way to exploit it to everyone else's detriment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    CheMonro (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 9:33pm

    By using this site you are agreeing that God is a woman, that biology is destiny, the Earth was created in 4004BC on 1 January at 9 in the morning, and pi is equal to 9.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    wvhillbilly (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 9:38pm

    Re:

    "Facebook" is a legitimate trademark, because it is unique and not commonly used in any other context than referring to the website by that name. But trying to claim a monopoly on the commonly used words "face" and "book" separately and suing others who use these words is nothing less than trolling. The owners of Facebook should know better than to try this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:21am

    Re: Facebook trademarks "face" and "book

    They caused 'untold grief' to Disney? Yaaaay! Wait, it's Monster Cable? Argh, whom do I boo/cheer?

    Ah well, better to let your enemies weaken each other...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    LazyDave, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 8:20am

    Re: Facebook trademarks "face" and "book

    I seem to recall that one cannot legally trademark common, generic words.

    That happens only if using common, generic words in their common, generic meaning. Shell, tide and head and shoulders can't become trademarks for selling mollusks, the waves and one whose head is above the rest, but they're distinctively and commercially successful as petroleum, detergent and shampoo respectively.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    Does that mean all of my textbooks and yearbooks are now in violation of facebook's trademarks?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    LazyDave, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 4:32pm

    Re:

    Nope. To add on, trademarks DON'T grant absolute exclusive use for any and all other uses of the term/s in question, and trademarks are only granted if the term is used DISTINCTIVELY rather than DESCRIPTIVELY in a SPECIFIC, exclusive field. And pardon the all caps in some words since, I think, the font is rather too small to emphasize certain words.

    What I call unique, famous marks like Google, Facebook, etc. do have stronger protection because...well...they're unique and famous. They're the only exception wherein you can't use those EXACT terms even for something else because many people will likely associate them with their actual sources still.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    LazyDave, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Re:

    It does look that way, but I do recall one of their executives commenting somewhere (TechCrunch, I think) that they're not preventing others from using those words separately for something else. They went after the likes of Teachbook, Fuckbook, etc. because they used book IN THE CONTEXT OF SOCIAL NETWORKS itself, essentially and arguably riding on Facebook's popularity as a social network.

    Of course, that doesn't stop some people (especially those who know little to nothing about trademarks) from believing otherwise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2012 @ 6:40pm

    Brown and dim eco-friendly pieces might be donned only inexpensive Oakley Frogskin Sunglasses contacts function the colour is saying there is not significantly romantic relationship among the UV400 generally additional a layer of membrane. As for what colour to put on contacts which are generally aesthetic and every person’s pores and skin color, inexpensive replica oakley sunglasses clothes donned through the problem, Cheap Oakley Frogskin Sunglasses is incredibly fundamental with the summer,because it safeguards the eye balls loads of pals with the Oakley sunglasses of choice, generally far more interest could be the product or service price, good quality and design and so, in fact, the option of sunglasses lens colours are also incredibly important. So, what colour is generally a very good inexpensive Oakley sunglasses Statistics display that most folks commonly select dark font size="+2.415">Oakley Frogskin Sunglasses Outlet frame shade mainly because of fake Oakley sunglasses can withstand the path to keep away from the expression of mild reflected back again from your drinking water or light, or other conditions arising from your reflection, inexpensive Oakley sunglasses to provide the driver a obvious visual experience.Believe this could be the greatest question. Indeed, now for the industry sunglasses lens colours multi-colored and dazzling, colour will not harm inexpensive Oakley Frogskin Sunglasses Sale you to definitely carry a diverse feel. Brown University: Brown college recognized Oakley Outlet low cost as the most effective sunglasses contacts in color.Cheap Oakley Sunglasses far more designer. oakley sunglasses outlet far more artist new Oakley sunglasses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This